Suspect ID’d in Liberty Twp. standoff 

Published: Saturday, January 13, 2018 @ 9:55 AM
Updated: Sunday, January 14, 2018 @ 1:00 AM

Standoff involving 10-year-old hostage in Butler Co. continues
Standoff involving 10-year-old hostage in Butler Co. continues

UPDATE @ 11:34 a.m: The suspect in the Liberty Twp. standoff where a 10-year-old boy was held hostage for nearly 30 hours has been identified as 31-year-old Donald Tobias Gazaway, according to Butler County law enforcement.

According to our partners at WCPO, Gazaway was booked in Butler County Jail on charges of kidnapping, felenious assault, and inducing panic, per the online county records. 

Gazaway surrendered to police early Sunday morning. 

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UPDATE @ 7:15 a.m (Jan. 14): A standoff where a 10-year-old boy was held hostage for nearly 30 hours is reportedly over.

According to our partners at WCPO, SWAT and other officials began to clear the scene at the Liberty Twp. townhomes around 6:30 a.m.

The 10-year-old boy is safe, and the suspect is in custody.

More information on the situation is expected from an official on scene shortly.

We will continue to update this story with additional details. 


A standoff involving a man who fired more than 20 rounds at law enforcement while holding a 10-year-old boy hostage in Liberty Twp. has entered its second day.

  • 10-year-old boy believed OK, not related to man
  • Boy lives at townhome where he’s held captive
  • Suspect fired more than 20 rounds in separate instances; law enforcement did not return fire
  • Sheriff to media: “It's a good sign when he's not shooting at us.”

UPDATE @ 1 a.m. (Jan. 14):

The standoff began about 1 a.m. at a townhome in the Springs at Liberty Township complex off Hamilton Mason Road in Butler County. Deputies with the agency’s SWAT team were still communicating with the suspect.

Sheriff Richard K. Jones said the situation is one of the longest in which he’s been involved.

“When we get called out to stuff like this usually we don’t expect it to be 24 hours … something like this we just do the best we can, take our time and make it happen,” Jones told our news partner WCPO-TV in Cincinnati.

The sheriff earlier said when the suspect fired shots at two separate times that law enforcement did not return fire. He said the suspect keeps the boy close at all times, but that deputies have been able to talk to the suspect and boy.

UPDATE @ 7:45 p.m.:

Managers of the Springs at Liberty Township apartments are helping residents at the portion of the complex that was evacuated find accommodations at local hotels.

They also opened the hospitality area of the front office and are offering food and drinks for the residents displaced by an ongoing standoff situation involving a 10-year-old boy held hostage.

UPDATE @ 6:50 p.m.:

There has been no change in the hostage/standoff situation in Liberty Twp.

A man is holding a 10-year-old boy who is not related to him at a Springs at Liberty Township townhome.

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The incident began around 1 a.m. following an argument. The suspect has fired rounds at law enforcement twice but no one was hit. The child is reported to be “OK,” and inside a car with the standoff suspect in the garage.

Our reporter on scene said Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones expressed hope it could end by dark.

Sheriff Richard K. Jones says that negotiations with a man holding a child hostage in a West Chester apartment complex are going well and he’s encouraged that there will be a peaceful resolution.

UPDATE @ 3:45 p.m.:

Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones recently spoke with media and our reporter who has been on the scene since this morning. Some of his quotes:

• “It's a good sign when he's not shooting at us.”

• "The little boy is OK at this point."

UPDATE @ 3:21 p.m.:

An armored vehicle has parked against the apartment where a man is holding a 10-year-old boy hostage at Springs at Liberty Twp.

It has been a little more than two hours since shots last came from the apartment, but no one was injured and there was no damage done.

Officials from multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the region are on the scene.

UPDATE @ 2:11 p.m.:

More law enforcement have arrived at the active standoff scene at which a man is holding a 10-year-old boy hostage inside an apartment at Springs at Liberty Township.

Butler County sheriff’s deputies are on scene, along with units from other area law enforcement agencies.

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UPDATE @ 1:10 p.m.:

Multiple gunshots were fired out of the apartment where a man is holding a 10-year-old boy hostage in Liberty Twp.

Nothing was struck by the shots, according to our reporter at the scene.

A view of the standoff at Springs at Liberty Township apartments as of 1:50 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. WAYNE BAKER / STAFF


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UPDATE @ 12:10 p.m.: 

A 10-year-old boy has been taken hostage following a disagreement Friday night at a Liberty Twp. apartment, according to officials.

The man has held the child hostage for several hours and fired rounds at officers and the department’s robot.

He has not made any demands and officials have been in contact with the child, who seems in good spirits, said Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones.

“The boy seems fine at this time,” Jones said.

The man apparently is not related to the child.

It is still an active situation and several residents have been evacuated. 


Police are on the scene of a standoff in the 7100 block of Liberty West Drive early Saturday morning, according to a report confirmed by the Butler County Sheriff’s dispatch.

MORE: Delivery of Journal-News has been delayed today

The incident is at the Springs at Liberty Township apartment and complex and began shortly after 3 a.m. Law enforcement officials at the scene said there is a child involved in the situation, but no further information on the child was immediately available.

MORE: 37 people indicted in Butler and Warren counties

According to dispatchers, no further details are being released at this time.

We will update this story when more information becomes available.

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Can you ID Dayton bike thieves?

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 5:16 PM

Police are asking for the public’s help to identify three suspects stealing bicycles.

The bike thieves took two bikes in the 300 block of West First Street over a two-day span July 11 and July 12, according to a release from Dayton police.

>> Dayton homicide victim, 67, found shot to death

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All three suspects appear to be younger males.

One was wearing a black tank top, black shorts and black shoes.

The second was wearing a white tank top, had a black backpack and distinctive bright blue tennis shoes.

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The third suspect was wearing a bright yellow or lime green T-shirt with black writing on the left chest and on the back of the shirt. He also was wearing gray shorts with a red stripe and black flip-flops with white on the strap.

Anyone who recognizes the suspects or who knows about the crime is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 937-222-STOP (7867).

Got a news tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

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No arrests in fatal shooting at Sugarcreek Twp. apartment complex

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 12:21 AM
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 4:51 PM

Crews respond to shooting in Sugarcreek Twp.

UPDATE @ 4:50 p.m.:  A number of people have been questioned, and BCI agents will be conducting additional interviews, but no arrests have been made at this time, Jill Del Greco, public information officer - communications for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, said in a statement.

Evidence collected at the scene has been submitted to the BCI crime lab, she said.

UPDATE @ 3:22 p.m.:

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The Greene County Coroner’s Office has identified the victim of the fatal shooting at Cedar Trail Apartments as a Dayton man.

Byron Moses, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene.

UPDATE @ 4 a.m (July 18): 

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Sugarcreek Twp. police are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred at the Cedar Trail Apartments early Wednesday morning.

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Crews respond to reported stabbing in Perry Twp. 

Officials responded to the 1800 block of Surrey Trail just after midnight and found a male deceased from apparent gunshot wounds in the hallway of the apartment building, according to Sugarcreek Twp. Police Chief Michael Brown. 

As police were arriving on scene, they noticed a black Cadillac leaving the area at high speed. Believing it could possibly be connected to the shooting, authorities pursued the vehicle down Wilmington Pike to I-675.

The pursuit was called off in Dayton. The vehicle was last scene on northbound I-75 from U.S. 35, police said.

A short time later, a man approached officials at the shooting scene and said he had been inside an apartment unit with a woman when the victim began knocking on the door. That man was taken in for questioning as a person of interest.

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Brown said Ohio BCI was called to process the scene because its investigators are well trained technicians. 

The identity of the victim was not immediately available. The Greene County Coroner’s Office removed the body.

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Homeless ex-con accused of killing 3 people – including 7-year-old – in 2 attacks

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 2:40 PM

Homeless Alabama Man Charged With Three Murders

A homeless Alabama man who spent the majority of his adult life in prison has been charged with killing three people, including a 7-year-old boy, in two separate attacks at homes across the street from one another. 

Jimmy O’Neal Spencer, 52, is charged with four counts of capital murder in Guntersville, a small lakeside city about 40 miles southeast of Huntsville. Guntersville Police Chief Jim Peterson announced the arrest Tuesday in a news conference streamed live on Facebook.

Peterson said he is confident that his detectives found the man responsible for the slayings. 

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“We’ve got the right guy. I’ll tell you that professionally and personally,” Peterson said. “Through the grace of God, we’ve got the right guy.”  

Spencer is charged with killing Marie Kitchens Martin, 74, and her great-grandson, Colton Ryan Lee, at Martin’s home at 2404 Mulberry St. The boy was visiting Martin from Huntsville. 

He is also accused of killing Martha Dell Reliford, 65, who was found dead in her home at 2321 Mulberry St. that same day. The houses are across the street from one another. 

Spencer faces two counts of capital murder during a first-degree robbery, capital murder of a victim under the age of 14 and capital murder of two or more people, jail records show. He is being held without bail in the Marshall County Jail.  

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A fourth death discovered as police canvassed the area on Friday is not believed to be related to the homicides, Peterson said. The body of James Michael Baker, 68, was found in a ditch a couple of blocks from the Martin-Lee and Reliford crime scenes. 

Baker, who had been reported missing from nearby Albertville Friday morning, is believed to have died of natural causes, Peterson said. Investigators are awaiting confirmation from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences. 

Colton’s obituary describes him as having loved to help plant a vegetable garden, as well as sweeping, monster trucks, John Deere and tractor pulls.

“He especially loved his puppies, Harley and Max,” the obituary read

Colton is survived by his mother, Tiffany Lee, and a brother; he was preceded in death by his father, Chris Lee. A GoFundMe page set up by the Albertville High School Class of 2004 for Lee, a member of that year’s class, said that Chris Lee died in September 2010, just two months before Colton was born. 

Colton and his great-grandmother are scheduled to be buried Thursday following a joint funeral. Reliford’s funeral information was not available online. 

Reliford is the third sibling in her family to become the victim of a homicide. The Arab Tribune in 2012 reported that Reliford, who was blind in one eye and fighting cancer, attended a parole hearing for Victor Wray, the man who shot and killed her brother, Pat Reliford Jr., during a fight in 1995.  

“He’s scum of the Earth, a lower-than-dirt coward,” Martha Reliford said of her brother’s killer in 2012. 

Reliford had been sick since at least 2006, the Tribune reportedAccording to the Advertiser-Gleam in Guntersville, she was still fighting the disease when she was killed. 

Reliford spoke her mind again at Wray’s most recent parole hearing, which took place last summer. 

“I’m eat up with cancer, but I will be at that hearing if I have to crawl,” she said at the time

Reliford’s sister, Ruby Harbin, was shot to death in 2007 at the American Legion in Huntsville. The gunman, William Koller, killed Harbin after she refused to dance with him, reported

Koller had become obsessed with Harbin, who he had known for some time, the news site reported. He was sentenced to life in prison in her killing. 

‘Not indicative of our city’

Peterson did not detail what led investigators to suspect Spencer in the homicides, but he called his investigators’ work on the case the “most impressive police work (he has) ever personally witnessed.” He said the time from the moment they developed a suspect to the moment Spencer was taken into custody was 42 hours and 16 minutes. 

“Work has been nonstop since Friday, this past Friday at 4:36 p.m., when we received the first call that there was a problem,” Peterson said

Detectives were at Martin’s home, investigating that crime scene, Friday afternoon when a neighbor approached and told them that Reliford had not been seen or heard from in about 10 days. Officers who went across the street to check on her welfare found her body. 

John Young, chief investigator for the Marshall County District Attorney’s Office, said at Tuesday’s news conference that the attack on Martin and Lee and the attack on Reliford did not happen at the same time. 

Spencer is originally from Franklin County in west Alabama, Young said. 

“He’s spent a number of years in the state prison system,” Young said. “He’s not been out of prison that long. How he got here, we’re not totally sure. (He’s) been here for a short period of time, sleeping on park benches, occasionally in hotel rooms around.”

Spencer spent more than 20 years in prison on burglary charges, Peterson said. He has been in the Guntersville area since about January. 

Young said there was no known relationship between Spencer and the victims, but the Advertiser-Gleam reported that Spencer had stayed with Raliford on and off in her home. 

“He wasn’t living there, but he stayed there some and was an acquaintance,” Marshall County District Attorney Everett Johnson told the newspaper. “As for Mrs. Martin and Spencer, the details are unclear.”

Young and Peterson declined Tuesday to discuss the motive for the slayings, but Johnson confirmed for the Advertiser-Gleam what the charges against Spencer indicated -- that the two women were robbed. 

The object of those robberies was cash, Johnson told the newspaper. 

Peterson also declined to say how the victims were killed, but family members of Martin and her great-grandson told the Advertiser-Gleam that both suffered blunt force trauma and that Martin was also strangled.

Reliford’s cause of death remains private, pending official word from state forensic pathologists. Detectives initially thought that her death could be due to natural causes due to her health problems, but her autopsy showed that she had been slain, Peterson said. 

The slayings shocked the community of Guntersville, where even investigators struggled to remember exactly when they had seen the city’s last homicide. 

“This is not indicative of our city in any manner,” Peterson said.  

Peterson said he hopes that the arrest can give the community, particularly the families of the victims, relief. 

“I pray that, although we cannot give the families their loved ones back, we can at least deliver some degree of justice,” the chief said. 

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Homicide victim found shot to death in Dayton home ID’d

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 4:35 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 4:35 PM

A homicide investigation is underway on East Fifth Street this afternoon, according to a Dayton police report.

UPDATE @ 4:35 p.m. (July 18):

A 67-year-old Dayton man was found fatally shot inside his home Tuesday afternoon in the 2600 block of East Fifth Street, Dayton police Lt. Jason Hall said.

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A friend found the victim, identified as Charles Hayes, dead in the home, and called 911 around 3:15 p.m.

“Detectives are actively working trying to locate witnesses, trying to determine a motive ...,” Hall said. 

UPDATE @ 11:40 p.m. (July 18):

The victim has been identified as Charles Hayes, 67, of Dayton, according to the Montgomery County Coroner’s office. 


A homicide investigation is underway this afternoon on East Fifth Street in Dayton.

Police were on the scene of the investigation in the 2600 block of East Fifth around 4:30 p.m., records showed.

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A 911 caller told police she showed up at her friend’s house this afternoon and her belongings were on the back porch and the victim was dead inside the house.

The call was placed around 3:15 p.m.

The circumstances of the death were not immediately known.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to

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